Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Saturday Morning Shopping Lists

Eggs, Bacon, Bread, Bid on Painting at Silent Auction

Raspberries, Fresh Honey, Sweet Roses, Shop with Executive Chef from Flights at the Renaissance Hotel

I realized the other day just how much my habits are changing since I made the move over to Park and Market, and how many new adventures have come my way. Can you guess where I’ve been shopping on Saturday mornings from my two lists above? Bacon and eggs might sound like the 2-story Harris Teeter grocery just an elevator ride away, but I love to buy them at the Midtown Farmers’ Market where you can talk with dozens of farmers about what they’re growing or raising, and where there is always something happening on the Commons.

One of the regulars at the market is Dean Wendel, Executive Chef of Flights at the Renaissance Hotel. Watching him crisp in his black linen uniform on a warm morning, exchanging the best of the best food secrets with the market vendors, I found myself shadowing him, and to my delight was invited to “ride along”. Some of our stops along the way…

Piedmont Biofarm where we played Stump the Chef, with Lamb’s Quarter (fix it like spinach) and a taste test (tear off a leaf and chew), then a purchase for some lucky lunchtime guests back at the hotel.

Cohen Farm where Esta Cohen and Chef clucked over a carton of eggs, not just any eggs, but Gussies, the slightly smaller eggs that come from Pullet hens and are named for Esta’s mother. These were a “treat” purchase to round out Chef’s standing weekly order for 6 dozen eggs that he has delivered to his kitchen. I found myself wondering how far you’d have to look to find another hotel restaurant serving eggs on a Saturday morning that you could walk a few steps outside the hotel and talk to the farmer who produced them!

Edible Earthscapes where Chef indulged his passion for Rainbow Chard after Jason Oatis assured him he had plenty on hand and offered to sell at restaurant pricing.

Double T Farm where Tom Kumpf showed off his red leaf lettuce, grown to take the heat (talk about testing that lately) but it was the baby Bibb heads that spoke to Chef and he gently picked several to adorn sandwiches for his lunch crowd.

Would I like to come back to the kitchen with him? Are you kidding? I was in Seventh Heaven as I walked into that busy enterprise mid-morning with what seemed like every table at Flights taken and catering underway for hundreds to come later in the day. I stood listening as they discussed the spread of market bounty across their work table, where and how it would be used that day, thinking Farm to Table doesn’t get any fresher than this.

But I also understood that what Chef is out there doing every week is about more than shopping to feed his guests, it’s about community, and that seems to be what Park and Market is bringing to life for me.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Through the Looking Glass

I have a friend who is 25, and I’m not. She’s a fashionista, and I’m not.

Here I am living in the fashion Mecca of the Triangle, where sophisticated and passionately local shops are bringing an array of designers to North Hills, and not knowing quite where to start.

You’re probably like me and could use a fashion coach to discover what Park and Market brings to your doorstep. My friend was up for the job and so we headed out yesterday.

First stop, Uniquities, where Nicole Bruno welcomed us into her colorful store with such hospitality we nearly stayed all afternoon. Be sure to stop by this weekend for the Additional 50% Off Sale that ends Sunday at 6:00. What will you find there?

  • Every kind of jeans imaginable from boot cut to denim leggings, with a variety of rises, as well as the latest in cargo pants (yes, they are back!)
  • Susana Monaco dresses practically jumping off the racks with fresh stripes of color
  • Trina Turk tank tops even prettier than her dresses, perfect with denim leggings
  • Handbags by Chloe and The Marc by Marc Jacobs, along with Chapelier’s every day washable tote bags in lip smacking color combinations

My “did you know” for this store? Everyday price points, including private label and loads of accessories. My finds? A long clover necklace and a 525 America black cardigan marked down to $29. Nicole says don’t forget to fan them on Facebook for the latest news and special events.

Next stop, Elaine Miller Collection, where Jean Proctor showed us the possibilities for fun waiting inside their one-of-a-kind showcases. Jean’s sense of fun is a great match for the timeless sense of style that is unmistakably Elaine Miller’s own. What will you find there?

  • Antique and estate jewelry blended seamlessly with today’s leading designers such as Elizabeth Locke (rarely seen in an independent store) and North Carolina’s own Slane and Slane
  • Fashion jewelry from Belissima and Alexis Bittar
  • Elegant designs made by Elaine herself, bringing vintage pieces – hers or your own – to new life

My “did you know” for this store? That antique mirrors and chandeliers are just part of the story waiting for you inside. My finds? The perfect fashion ring in their Sizzling Summer Sale where a wall of fun awaits you, all 25 – 70% off. Jean is working on fall selections now and invites you to stop by often to see what is new.

Whether you are looking through glass to see what is there, or in the glass to see how you look wearing it, it’s all sort of like living at Park and Market… the only way to know for sure it fits is to try it on.

Friday, June 4, 2010

What Makes a Place Home?

An interesting slice of observation about life at Park and Market Apartments comes from asking others how long they’ve lived here and where they have come from. The variety of answers to those two simple questions suggests there are enough stories to write a book, and that what we have in common is our enjoyment of a distinctive way of life that is new for Midtown Raleigh.

When we arrive at a place where everything is new, what transforms that place into home?

  • Is it the school bus that arrives each day just outside the Park and Market leasing office? (Feels at once familiar and goes oh so nicely with the colorful awnings at Zoes Kitchen)
  • Is it discovering Christine selling her home-grown sweet roses from the Flower Market in front of Vivace on a Thursday afternoon? (Sweeter yet for her offer to give me the jar as well as the flowers when I mentioned I had not yet unpacked my vases)
  • Is it the voice of Ferenc, who shines the common areas of Park and Market with energy and a smile, mop in hand, calling out, “Welcome Home!” as I come through the lobby?
  • Is it meeting a neighbor on the elevator and within minutes showing each other our apartments comparing what drove our choice, or being loaned serving dishes for a party when mine were still in one of the endless packing boxes? (Favor was soon returned with a couple bottles of the secret ingredient for a family recipe)

When you live at Park and Market, every step brings you closer to home.